Anna is in charge today in The Archbishop’s Palace with Milena, Eveny and Manu all working on the portraits preparing for the reline and strip line of B4 and B8. All is discussed, prepared for the next day and hopefully if all goes well, Friday my day off we shall be back in Panjim relining. It is good to alternate from Panjim to Rachol as the paintings this year require major treatment and need to settle between procedures. The intense heat and humidity does not help, and we need to step back and discuss and re-examine what we do and how it behaves in this climate every inch of the way. We have to allow the paintings to settle between each intervention. It is still quite incomprehensible why all the paintings of this section except one have been so clumsily cut out of their stretcher and stuck with synthetic glue and nailed to the back of the frames. Possibly a water damage which affected the stretcher and corresponding linen and the paint layers?
Meanwhile we pick up Joanna and head off to Rachol. It is a slightly hazy, softly lit morning, not much can be said about the weather (ever present topic of conversation back in UK), sun, sun and yet again bright and glorious sun. We meander down to Rachol on a particular lovely road, through some intense green paddy fields with the ever present little, intermediate and great egrets, black headed ibis, painted storks, woolly-neck storks, black-crowned night heron, Indian pond heron, Indian spot-billed ducks hundreds of them and the small birds, except the usual ones which I am trying to recognise by taking photographs and asking the ever patient Eveny. Having stopped a few times we arrive well after Jo, Rhea and Sandesh whose smiling faces appear from the first floor ready to start.
King Sebastian awaits us regally lying on his side; he looks better but is still covered in all sort of ailments we have to treat. Having prepared the solvent gel we decide who is working where, and to what extent do we remove the varnishes. The team is great – Sandesh is on a stool, Joe is standing on a table, Rhea is next to Joanna who has been given an ungrateful task to sort out the army which has been almost wiped out by a previous clean possibly over a hundred years ago and hence is covered in thick layers of coloured varnish, and Caetano is given the fallen men on the ground to lighten.
By three o’clock Christopher has bought us all a cappuccino Ice cream. I have no idea where he gets them but they keep coming. We have quietly melted (thank goodness, we have a powerful fan) but the painting is taking shape. For the first time since the beginning of cleaning we leave happy.